Senior? Who, Me?

I went to the vet yesterday for a routine exam and the 3-year rabies vaccination that I need to cross into the United States. The bill read “Examination (Senior)” and said I’d received a “Canine Geriatric Profile”. Ack! When did that happen? With five years between Logan and me, I’ve always been the pup, the youngster, the kid. I guess I kind of lost track of time. I’m about to head into the double digits!

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Time sure flies.

On the plus side, I had a put-it-on-the-fridge-worthy blood panel result for a dog my age. Kidneys, heart, liver, thyroid, red & white blood cells, blood sugar, all solidly in the normal range. I’ve even lost just over a kilo since I was last in. But the senior thing has me a bit freaked out. I know I’m not quite the bundle of energy I used to be, but geriatric?

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Waiting to go for a walk in Kananaskis. And who’s the old guy?

I hope it’s true that you’re only as old as you feel because that would make me six or seven at best. Although I do feel a bit older than that hanging out with my new friend, Ria. She’s three and a half and, man, that girl has some energy. Ria is a new member of the G & S family so you’ll be seeing more of her on Fur-idays in the future. Maybe I can even persuade her to write a guest blog. (Everyone who’d like to hear from Ria, raise your paws!)

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Ria and me at the Chestermere off-leash.

I’ve long striven to become more human. In fact, I’m hoping that my only-doggedness will help me progress in my endeavour (good human word, don’t you think?) Without the constant presence of another dog to pull me into canine-type behaviour, I’m hoping I can fine tune my being-human skills. If I can manage it, do you think I’d live longer? I know I can’t expect the 70-80 years that a human lives (man, that sounds like a long time to a dog), but maybe 20?

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Me in 2011. I admit I’m looking a little more “frosted” these days.

If you don’t think it’s possible, just check out this list on Wikipedia. The Guinness record holder for the oldest dog was a guy named Bluey who, and this is the cool part, was an Australian Cattle Dog! Pretty sure that’s what I am, or half anyway. I know, I know, it’s the quality of the days rather than the quantity, but there’s no harm in setting the bar high, is there?

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Frosted but fresh!

There was one bit of bad news from Dr. Julie today. I have to go back to have a lump removed from my leg. It’s nothing scary at this point but she’s concerned that it could develop into something and I trust her completely. Best get it gone. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to medical procedures, but they tell me I’ll be sleeping so I’m not too concerned. The part that does concern me is the no food or water after midnight the previous day. No breakfast?! They won’t need to sedate me. I’ll pass out from starvation!

Well, I’m still a little tired from yesterday’s activities and T’s taking me for a walk in a little while so I think I’ll climb into my favourite bed for a nap. Oops, that sounded a bit geriatric, didn’t it?

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I’m not old, I’m just relaxed.

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Ten Steps Plus One Year

It’s been a year since I first visited Barrett Veterinary and started on my ten steps to healing. Considering my multiple health issues, my age, and that one year is like seven for a dog, I’d say I’ve done pretty well. And by pretty well I mean still on the top side of the grass.09 Logan - 10Steps- topside

The problem is that the same 10-step program that, a year ago, got me out in the field doing 1-hour walks, now just gets me to the barn and back, and our barn isn’t far from the house. It didn’t happen all at once, of course, it’s been gradual. My 1-hour walks became 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, then 20, and so on. It’s hard to believe I was still walking a mile every morning when we first came home from Arizona in March. When I look south to the neighbours’ place now, a half a mile away, it seems a formidable journey.

These days I go out to the barn to help with chores once or twice a day and make the trek to the end of the driveway with Nollind to close the gate at night, even if the gate is already closed. I like the routine, and I like to feel included in the happenings of the farm, like I still have a job.09 Logan - 10Steps- stalled

Helping with the herd used to be my thing. I’d rush right in to assist when Teresa was moving horses around. These days I hang back, far back. My Border Collie herding instinct still says, “Get in there,” but my survival instinct says “Are you nuts?” I swear those horses are a lot bigger than they used to be, or maybe I’m smaller.

My life is definitely a lot different than it was a few years ago, even a year ago, but it’s still life, and it’s still good most days. I enjoy different things at a different pace. I always did like lying on the deck or in the yard watching the world go by, so that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that I just let it go by, the world, rather than chasing after it.09 Logan - 10Steps- yardtime

I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here. Walking is getting tougher, the Legend isn’t helping much anymore, and some days it’s a challenge just to get up off my bed. Teresa got me some supplements that help settle my nighttime restlessness and my medications have been adjusted to levels that seem to keep me going as best they can but, when I look at my condition compared to a year ago, I know I don’t have another one in me. There’s only so much sliding downhill that can happen before the toboggan reaches the bottom and stops moving.

But, until then, I’ll be here, keeping the troops entertained. I figure as long as I have a skip in my step (in addition to a limp) and a light in my eye, I’ll be bargaining for a few more days.09 Logan - 10Steps- fieldwalk

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

I used to enjoy the end of the day, the prairie or desert sky coloured by the dying sun, going for a walk in stealth mode in my black coat. But that was before … before the dark became scary.

A few years back, Teresa and Nollind moved their bedroom downstairs and we loved it, Chico and I, because we had our own couch right there in the bedroom with our peeps. The pack could sleep together and still have plenty of space each.

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Our futon couch in the downstairs bedroom. Canine cushiness.

Then, one night when the light went out, I just couldn’t stay in the room. I slept outside the bedroom door where there was a night light. It became a bit of a joke. They’d turn out the light and say, “Bye, Logan,” because they knew I’d leave. Teresa made me a bed between the door and the basement stairs and I’d sleep there, or go upstairs sometimes, where there were more night lights.

Last fall, the night lights weren’t doing it. I was pretty much sleeping on the main floor by then, because the stairs were a challenge, and I started getting nervous at bedtime. Some nights I was able to tuck in and go to sleep, others I’d pace, back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. They tried taking me downstairs with them but that was even worse.

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Looks so easy.

When we set out on the road in December I found being in the more confined space of Sid quite comforting and I slept great for the first month. I had my couch and my pillow, and my peeps sleeping just twenty or so feet away. Then, one night, I just needed to get out of there. I went to the door, banged into it to get someone’s attention. Nothing. I went back to my couch and tried to settle. Nope. Back to the door. Bang. Back to the couch. Repeat.

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RV time was a great remedy for my nighttime restlessness … for awhile.

It didn’t happen every night, the restlessness, but often enough that Teresa and Nollind started putting a chair in the way so that I couldn’t bang into the screen door and wake them up. When I figured out how to get in behind it, they put a second chair beside the first. When they started leaving a light on for me it seemed to help for a time but then it didn’t. I was back wandering the trailer and, by the end of the trip, it was almost every night.

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Someone to keep me company is helpful when the “evening crazies” set in.

I hoped, and I’m sure Teresa the light sleeper did too, that I’d settle in once we were home again. Uh-uh. It was worse at home. So much space, so many shadows, so many now unfamiliar noises. I was a wreck that first week. I’ve always been kind of a nervous guy but this was exceptional, even for me. The vet was consulted, and she thought it might be something called Sundowners, a syndrome that affects people with dementia and old dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (a fancy way to say senility). I tell you, it was not a good day when I heard my mind could be going down the same degenerative road as my body.

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I can sleep almost anywhere during the daylight hours.

I was prescribed something called Selegiline, a human Parkinson’s medication that helps some dogs with cognitive issues. We were told it might or might not help and we’d know in a month or two if it was working. After only one dose, my nighttime restlessness increased, after two, the restlessness was spreading into the daytime hours, and the third had me vomiting. Teresa did some online research and found that Selegiline shouldn’t be given with Tramadol, a pain med prescribed by the vet down in Arizona. It could cause confusion, increased restlessness, and, you can probably guess, vomiting. I hit the trifecta of potential side effects. Teresa tried to take me off the Tramadol but I got too sore on my right leg so the Selegiline trial was abandoned. I doubt it would have helped anyway, since I’m a far cry from senile. I’m just sensitive, and getting more so with age.

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Daytime naps are the best.

This all happened when we first returned home in mid-March and things have improved since then. The vet increased my dose of Gabapentin, a drug for my arthritis that also has a calming effect, and I now take it right at bedtime along with some melatonin. It doesn’t work every night, but things are much better than they were.

The ultimate solution would be to let me sleep outside. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but inside where there’s likely not something lurking in the shadows is much scarier than outside, where there could be something lurking in the shadows. I can’t explain why but I calm right down out there. Problem is, it’s been too cold at night for my old bod. I get the shivers in the house overnight if I’m not wearing my fleece jacket. But, as soon as the weather warms up, come bedtime they can just kick me outside in my yard and we can all get a good night’s sleep.

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Love my dog house at any time of day.